Election night's alright for fighting: The role of emotions in political participation


A large literature has established a persistent association between the skills and resources citizens possess and their likelihood of participating in politics. However, the short-term motivational forces that cause citizens to employ those skills and expend resources in one election but not the next have only recently received attention. Findings in political psychology suggest specific emotions may play an important role in mobilization, but the question of 'which emotions play what role'? remains an important area of debate. Drawing on cognitive appraisal theory and the Affective Intelligence model, we predict that anger, more than anxiety or enthusiasm, will mobilize. We find evidence for the distinctive influence of anger in a randomized experiment, a national survey of the 2008 electorate, and in pooled American National Election Studies from 1980 to 2004. © 2011 Southern Political Science Association.

Publication Title

Journal of Politics